Drug testing OKed

In January, the Reform Board approved a policy giving the chief executive officer, or his designee, the power to require drug testing of a board employee when there is a “reasonable suspicion” that the employee may be using drugs or alcohol in the workplace.

Important Information

In January, the Reform Board approved a policy giving the chief executive officer, or his designee, the power to require drug testing of a board employee when there is a “reasonable suspicion” that the employee may be using drugs or alcohol in the workplace.

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A year and a half after taking office, school system administrators have produced a telephone directory with listings for schools, regions and central office departments.

Pairings complete, action plans in

Green says her teachers will serve as models and helpers for Parkman teachers. She plans to spend half of the board’s $10,000 resource allotment on substitute teachers, who free Herzl and Parkman teachers to visit each others’ classrooms, and the other half to pay teachers to stay after school for staff development, she says.

Schools need standard curriculum guides

As the CPS’ seven-year experiment with bottom-up administration has gone down in flames, so has the individual-school-determined, bottom-up, non-test-aligned, decentralized curriculum. The major shortcoming of the Chicago public schools instructional program is the lack of a common curriculum that is aligned with an evaluation instrument that measures what is being taught. Standards without a core curriculum have not and will not do the job, particularly when they keep changing every year.

Vallas mulls reconstitution, asks panel for ‘cover’

Vallas asked the council, a nine-member body appointed by the Reform Board, for advice on particulars as well as process. “What are the five high schools, in your opinion, that should be reconstituted? … I don’t want to make that decision alone. [Accountability chief] Pat Harvey doesn’t want to make that decision alone.”

New Catholic school blazes new trail

Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, housed in the shuttered St. Stephens Elementary School in Pilsen, is centered around college-prep courses, but it also teaches workplace skills, conducts some classes in two languages, stresses cooperative learning and employs what educators call block scheduling, or 80-minute classes.

How Catholic, public high schools differ

Urban Catholic schools seem to have all the answers these days when it comes to educating disadvantaged students. Among other successes spotlighted by the media, they’re sending a higher percentage of low-income, minority students onto college than do their public school counterparts.

Reform groups in, teachers out at first

With elementary school reforms underway, Chief Executive Officer Paul Vallas shifted focus last summer and revved up a team for high school redesign. In a kick-off speech last July he called for “quick and lasting” reforms for the city’s high schools.

Board downshifts on high school plan

Under the draft proposal, students would work to obtain a certificate of initial mastery, typically at the end of the sophomore year, and a certificate of advanced mastery to graduate. For both, they would have to pass at least 80 percent of mastery tests the district would develop for core courses, such as English and math; they also would have to score above a given level on a nationally standardized test such as the P-ACT or PSAT, preliminary college entrance exams. Advanced mastery would also require a research paper, performance, exhibit or other project.

Commitment, reconstitution, accountability

Many of the 130 some members of Chicago’s high school redesign task forces may be wondering why they bothered. The administration has rejected a goodly number of their recommendations as unrealistic, too costly or contradictory and seems to be sticking with plans it has been talking about since August. Even so, the work of the task forces was not a waste of time. The grand sweep of their ideas reinforces for the School Reform Board and schools themselves a basic lesson about school change: There is more than one way to reform a school and provide quality education. Local commitment is the key.